Harvest Work - Conditions
Harvest conditions can vary greatly between jobs. Some jobs are really easy, but most are very physically
demanding. You'll usually be lugging bags or baskets of fruit or veg around all day, sometimes going up
and down large ladders. You don't need to be in great shape to be a picker, but it would help if you're
on contract as the fitter you are, the faster you'll be able to go.
On most jobs you'll be outside in the sun, usually without shade. Lightweight, cool clothes are best
but make sure they also protect you from the sun. Long sleeves are useful if you're picking pears, oranges, apples, or
any other type of tree with thorns or jaggy, brittle branches. Picking in shorts is fine, but make sure to
put sunscreen all over you. Wear a hat with a brim, but not too large a brim as it can get knocked off in
the trees and really slow you down. I used a baseball cap and it worked great. Work boots are
essentail, especially if you're climbing ladders all day. The ladders have spikes on the bottom that could
really damage your foot if you were wearing sandals or light shoes. Plus the rungs of the
ladders will hurt the bottoms of your feet if you wear footwear with flimsy soles.
Safety doesn't seem to be a huge concern of the farmers. They'll tell you the best way to do things, tell
you to drink lots of water, and send you on your way. It's up to you to work out how to use your
ladder without falling off. And you will have some near falls, no matter how careful you are. I fell once,
but only because I was carrying a huge bag of pears, sort of bouncing down the ladder, and the thing
snapped in half. Many people I've worked with have fallen from the ladders, but nothing too serious
beyond getting the wind knocked out of them, a scare, and maybe a nasty bruise. You'll get alot of
scrapes on your arms though, and this can only be prevented if you wear long sleeves, but sometimes
it's just too hot.
In most cases you'll work between 8 and 12 hours, so take a lunch, snacks, and enough water to last
you. You'll usually be able to eat the fruit as well, though I'm sure farmer's would prefer it if you didn't.
You don't have to be super sneaky about it, but I wouldn't pick a whole bunch of apples right in front of